This is Faith Evan’s time. You can see it in her toned physique, sense it in her confident manner and hear it on her fourth cd (and debut on Capitol Records) The First Lady. Featuring songs written and arranged by Faith, and production from the Neptunes, Chucky Thompson, Mario Winans, Brian Cox, Jermaine Dupri and Carvin and Ivan, The First Lady is the platinum selling, Grammy winning Faith Evans, as you’ve never experienced her. Direct. Dramatic. Playful. Passionate. Rich with wisdom, sexy, and brimming with an undeniable passion. 10 years into a career that’s had its share of tribulations and triumph, The First Lady is the record Faith was born to create.
The title’s significance? “When you think of a “first lady”, you might not hear her speaking but she always seems to handle everything with a certain dignity. I feel that way about myself. In the past I haven’t made it a habit to deliver sound bites or verbalize everything I’m going through, because it’s about seeing things for what they are and sorta tucking a feather in your cap. Watching. Observing and growing,” Faith smiles,” and I’m still standing.”
That she is. Ask her what makes The First Lady special and Faith enthuses. “Liberation! Being in a different place mentally and physically, because I have gone through a lot of changes. Being on a new label is really a new start; one many artists don’t get. It’s refreshing to be able to start again and have the creative freedom I’m now enjoying.”
That freedom is evident on the first single “Again”, produced by Carvin and Ivan (Jill Scott, Musiq). Set to a retro, mid tempo groove “Again” is Faith’s “testimony;” an intimate look at the drama of the past few years. ”I know when you come back out people want to talk about what you’ve been through and being in the news (e.g. a 2004 arrest on drug charges), I’ve seen how things can get blown out of proportion. “ No stranger to media scrutiny, Faith was nonetheless stunned by the intensity of the coverage following the incident -to avoid a trial Evans and her husband entered a spiritual based diversion program. Faith was inspired to work her issues out through her music. “Again” is how I want that situation to be understood but it’s not what the whole album is about. I’m just getting the information out and then we’re gonna jump into another song and have some fun.”
That song is the high energy “Going Out” produced by the Neptunes and featuring Pharell and Pusha. “It’s different, unexpected; The Neptunes always do something left field. I love this song because it’s young, open and fun. I’m about to live life and no matter what happens I know God’s got me covered. I’m not going to stay sad, I’m at a great place in my life and “Going Out” is my way of summing that up.”
Delivering a classic soul vibe is “Mesmerized,” co-written with husband Todd Russaw and produced by Chucky Thompson (Faith’s 1995 debut), AJ and Russaw. “I love that song! I had the track for 2 years and started messing around in my studio and came up with the hook, just me in the basement with Todd. Then when Chucky and I got back together he was like, My God! The chemistry is still there; nobody could have done that track but you. It’s just raw. I’m really channeling my inner Lyn Collins.”
Laced with lushness is “Ever Wonder” a duet with another old friend, Mario Winans. "That song is just a radio hit and it’s honest and simple. It reminds me of (2002’s Grammy nominated) “Can’t Believe” which Mario produced. “Ever Wonder” is also collaboration with her husband. Working with Todd is something Faith describes as “beautiful” adding; “he inspires me in every way. He’s very encouraging and wants me to be the best I can be in every possible way. “
Born in Florida Faith grew up in Newark, New Jersey, raised by her grandparents and her mother, who was a singer. At 2, Faith was already performing in church and as a high school honor student sang in school before winning a full scholarship to Fordham University. After a year, Faith left college to see if her jazz and classical voice training could pay off.
She got her answer, and by the early 90’s Faith was a session singer and songwriter for, among others Christopher Williams, Usher, Pebbles and Mary J Blige. Faith’s contributions brought her to the attention of Sean “P.Diddy” Combs who signed Evans to Bad Boy. In 1995 Faith dropped her debut Faith, which on the strength of “You Used To Love Me” and “Soon As I Get Home” went platinum. That same year Faith met label mate The Notorious B.I.G and after a whirlwind courtship married him, capping off the relationship with a guest spot on a hit remix of Biggie’s “One More Chance.”
IIn 1996 she and Biggie had a son yet the marriage was strained and the couple separated. In March 1997 Faith was thrust unwillingly into the news when Biggie was gunned down in Los Angeles. Her grief was expressed via a moving vocal performance on the #1 single “I’ll Be Missing You”, produced by Combs.
That same year saw Faith’s sophomore cd Keep The Faith. Like its predecessor, the cd went platinum, and featured “Love Like This”, and the Babyface produced #1 “Never Gonna Let You Go”. Faith juggled solo work with high profile cameos ala Whitney Houston’s 1999 single “Heartbreak Hotel” and Eve’s “Love Is Blind” (2000). Her third platinum cd Faithfully (2001) showcased a more up-tempo sound via hits like “You Gets No Love.” In 2003 Faith made her feature film debut, along side Beyonce and Cuba Gooding, JR in The Fighting Temptations and in 2004 signed with Capitol.
When asked what people will hear on The First Lady Faith is reflective. “Growth. I know I have fans that believe in me and who have been with me since that first album. Having that support is wonderful. This time, perhaps more ever before, I’m trying to show a real range of emotions. I’ve been through so much. I lost a husband, a label, I’ve gained weight, lost weight, been arrested, won awards, there’s so much. These are all things that are a part of my life and my music, but I'm able to take all of it and grow. After three albums I know that nobody can do what Faith Evans does like Faith Evans. ”
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